A comment the other day complained that English potatoes are sweet and powdery things, not worth cooking with. I beg to differ; six months of living and cooking in Paris convinced me that the English potato is a glorious beast, not bettered anywhere in the world. No American or Asian potato has yet made me think otherwise.
Tiny, young new potatoes are just appearing in the shops now; they’re dense, they’re waxy and there’s nothing sweet or powdery about them. They’ve a delicate and delicious taste. When the Jersey Royals appear in April, I’ll be steaming them in their papery skins with a little tarragon, and dipping them in home-made Hollandaise. The new potatoes in shops at the moment also steam deliciously, but it’s worth trying this recipe to bathe them with the sweet, sticky roasting juices from a couple of onions. No garlic in this one; you want the flavour of the onions to sing on its own. Anchovies give this side dish a deep and remarkably non-fishy background which complements the onion flavour; if you are an anchovy-hater (shame on you), leave them out. You’ll need:
500g new potatoes
2 large onions
Salt (I used Steenbergs’ Perfect Salt, which also contains some dried herbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil or duck/goose fat
Halve the potatoes and drop them into boiling water for eight minutes. Drain and transfer to a baking tray. Quarter the onions and separate each quarter into layers. Mix the potatoes, onions, anchovies, salt, pepper and fat well and put in an oven at 180°C for 45 minutes, or until everything is golden and fragrant.